What to know about buying a house in Wyoming
If you’re a Wyoming first-time home buyer, you’ll be aware that home prices in the Equality State have been rising fast — even more quickly than nationwide. That can be a real challenge when you’re saving for a down payment.
Fortunately, Wyoming offers some excellent help, including low-interest mortgages, home buyer education courses, and, if you’re eligible, down payment assistance of up to $15,000. Here’s how to get started.
In this article (Skip to...)
- WY home buyer overview
- Home loan options
- WY home buyer programs
- First-time buyer grants
- Buying in Wyoming’s cities
- WY mortgage rates
Wyoming home buyer overview
The median home sale price in Wyoming was $490,900. That was an eye-watering increase of 29.8% over the previous 12 months, according to Redfin.
Such high home price inflation can make it difficult for first-time buyers to save for a down payment. But help may be at hand. So, read on for details about home buying assistance that could help you become a homeowner sooner than you thought possible.
Wyoming home buyer stats
|Average Home Sale Price in WY1||$490,900|
|Minimum Down Payment in WY (3%)||$14,725|
|20% Down Payment in WY||$98,175|
|Average Credit Score in WY2||722|
|Maximum WY Home Buyer Grant3||$10,000 "silent mortgage" loan statewide (WCDA)|
Down payment amounts are based on the state's most recently available average home sale price. "Minimum" down payment assumes 3% down on a conventional mortgage with a minimum credit score of 620.
If you're eligible for a VA loan (backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs) or a USDA loan (backed by the US Department of Agriculture), you may not need any down payment at all.
First-time home buyer loans in Wyoming
If you’re a first-time home buyer in Wyoming with a 20% down payment, you can get a conventional loan with a low interest rate. And you never have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Of course, few first-time buyers have saved enough for 20% down. But the good news is that you don’t need that much. Not by a long shot.
Borrowers can often get into a new home with as little as 3% or even 0% down using one of these low-down-payment mortgage programs:
- Conventional 97: Backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. 3% down payment and 620 minimum credit score. You can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few years
- FHA loan: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration. 3.5% down and a 580 minimum credit score. You’re on the hook for mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) until you refinance to a different type of mortgage, move, or pay off your loan
- VA loan: Only for veterans and active-duty service members. Zero down payment is required. Minimum credit score varies by lender but often 620. No ongoing mortgage insurance after closing. These are arguably the best mortgages available, so check your eligibility if you have a military service history
- USDA loan: For those on low-to-moderate incomes buying in designated rural areas. Zero down payment required. Credit score requirements vary by lender but often 640. Low mortgage insurance rates
- WCDA: Special mortgages with low rates for Wyoming first-time home buyers. Plus, down payment assistance for eligible borrowers (see below)
Note that government loan programs (including FHA, VA, and USDA home loans) require you to buy a primary residence. That means you can’t use these loans for a vacation home or investment property.
In addition, most programs let you use gifted money or down payment assistance (DPA) to cover your down payment and closing costs. Depending on the mortgage loan you choose, you could potentially get into your new house with minimal cash out of pocket.
If you’re unsure which program to choose for your first mortgage, your lender or real estate agent can help you find the right match based on your finances and home buying goals.
Wyoming first-time home buyer programs
The Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) says its Standard First-Time Homebuyer product offers special mortgages with low fixed-interest rates. Your loan may also come with down payment assistance (more on that below).
As is usual with state-backed mortgage programs, these loans have income limits and purchase price limits that vary by household size and county. Click that link to check whether you’re eligible.
Other qualifying criteria for Wyoming first-time home buyer loans include:
- You’ll choose your lender from a list of more than 100 participating lenders
- You’ll occupy the home as your principal residence
- You’ll use an FHA, USDA or VA mortgage (see above) that the WCDA adapts
- You’ll complete a home buyer education course through the Wyoming Housing Network
In addition, the home you’re buying must:
- Be a single-family home (no rentals or multi-family dwellings)
- Sit on no more than 10 acres of land
If you’re buying a manufactured home, it must rest on permanent foundations and meet FHA requirements.
Click through to the WCDA website for all the details on these mortgage programs.
WCDA Standard First-Time Home Buyer program
The First-Time Home Buyer program offers a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with below-market interest rates to borrowers who have not owned their primary residence in the last three years.
This WCDA program can be paired with the Homestretch Down Payment Assistance loan that provides upwards of $15,000 to be applied to the upfront costs of borrowing, such as down payment and closing costs. We offer more details about this DPA program in the next section.
WCDA Spruce Up program
The Spruce Up loan provides financing for both the purchase of a home and its rehabilitation — all with a single loan and mortgage payment. Rehabilitation loans let you borrow more than the home’s current value. The maximum loan amount will be your home’s estimated future value after renovations are complete.
The Spruce Up covers home improvements including minor remodeling, non-structural repairs, accessibility upgrades for persons with disabilities, as well as repairing or replacing the plumbing, roofing, HVAC, or electrical systems.
WCDA HFA Preferred program
The HFA Preferred program is available to both first-time home buyers and current homeowners who are refinancing their primary residence. It provides a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with no restrictions on home purchase prices.
Keep in mind that first-timers will still need to complete a home buyer education class. Furthermore, all borrowers will need to occupy the property as a primary residence for at least one year after using the program.
WCDA Advantage program
As far as we can tell, WCDA’s Advantage loan is nearly identical to the HFA Preferred, but with one important distinction. The Advantage cannot be used to finance the purchase of a manufactured home whereas they are eligible with the HFA Preferred.
Wyoming first-time home buyer grants
If you’re a first-time buyer in Wyoming, but you need additional cash for the down payment and closing costs, then the WCDA has two programs that you should consider.
WCDA HomeStretch DPA
Although the WCDA doesn’t offer grants to Wyoming first-time home buyers, its HomeStretch Down Payment Assistance loan product, styled as “Home$tretch,” can still be attractive to the right people.
This provides a “silent” second mortgage of up to $15,000, which is an interest-free loan with no monthly payments. The money can be used toward your down payment, closing costs, and/or upfront prepaid items (property taxes and homeowners insurance) due at closing.
True, you have to pay back your loan eventually. But you need to do so only “upon sale of the home, refinance or 30-year maturity.”
WCDA Amortizing DPA
An alternative WCDA program is the Amortizing DPA Loan Product. You’ll repay this fixed-interest loan in low, equal installments over a maximum of 10 years. You’ll need a minimum credit score of 620 to qualify.
The Amortizing DPA may be preferable if you plan to move again relatively soon and prefer not to face repaying your full HomeStretch loan at that time.
WCDA Mortgage Credit Certificate
First-time home buyers using either the HFA Preferred or Advantage programs may qualify for a mortgage credit certificate, or MCC. This is a first-time home buyer tax credit of up to $2,000 per year on your federal income tax. It’s based on the mortgage interest you pay, so the exact amount of the credit will depend on your specific financial situation.
Tax credits like these free up more available income to qualify for a home loan and assist you with monthly mortgage payments.
Buying a home in Wyoming’s major cities
Casper is the most affordable of Wyoming’s three biggest cities on average. However, its real estate prices are rising quickly. Cheyenne and Laramie both have higher home prices that are close to the statewide average.
Given the number of people who live in Wyoming, it’s perhaps unsurprising that its cities and counties appear not to have their own down payment assistance programs. At least, we couldn’t find any, though you may wish to call your local authority to double-check. Of course, everyone who’s eligible statewide can apply to the WCDA for its programs (see above).
Cheyenne first-time home buyers
The median listing price for homes in Cheyenne was $389,000 in November 2022. That was up 14.4% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home prices, making a down payment in Cheyenne might cost:
- $11,675 for 3% down payment
- $77,800 for 20% down payment
We couldn’t find any trace of a home buyer assistance program on the City of Cheyenne’s website. However, first-time home buyers in Cheyenne should consider one of the statewide WCDA programs.
Casper first-time home buyers
The median listing price for homes in Casper was $284,400 in November 2022. That was up 13.8% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home prices, making a down payment in Casper might cost:
- $8,550 for 3% down payment
- $56,875 for 20% down payment
First-time home buyers in Casper won’t find any down payment assistance through the city’s website. So your best option is to visit the WCDA or speak with a loan officer at a participating lender.
Laramie first-time home buyers
The median listing price for homes in Laramie was $349,300 in November 2022. That was up 7.5% year-over-year, according to Realtor.com.
At those home prices, making a down payment in Laramie might cost:
- $10,475 for 3% down payment
- $69,850 for 20% down payment
Similar to Wyoming’s other biggest cities, we couldn’t find any homeownership assistance through the City of Laramie. But you can reach out to officials directly at 307-721-5200 to find out about any opportunities that are not published on its website.
Where to find home buying help in Wyoming
All the organizations we’ve listed above should provide advice freely to any first-time home buyer in Wyoming.
In addition to our selection, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a list of statewide and city- and county-specific programs across Wyoming. The list is as follows:
- Habitat for Humanity: Offers homeownership assistance and volunteer opportunities that help people become homeowners
- Housing Authority of the City of Cheyenne: Welcome Home Wyoming Program
- US Department of Agriculture Rural Housing
- Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) Provides down payment assistance and educational classes to Wyoming first-time home buyers
- Wyoming Housing Network: Home buyer education classes
What are today’s mortgage rates in Wyoming?
You can check current mortgage interest rates in Wyoming here.
When you’re ready to start the home buying process, experiment with a mortgage calculator to see how down payment and interest rates will affect your mortgage payment. Then make sure you get personalized rate quotes from at least three to five mortgage lenders.
Don’t just look at advertised rates online. Actually apply for preapproval and compare the interest rates and fees you’re offered. Because that’s the only way to know you’re getting the best deal possible on your new home loan.
1Source: Redfin Wyoming Housing Market data
2Source: Experian.com 2022 study of 2021 data
3Based on a review of the state's available DPA grants at the time this was written